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Research Fellows Directory

Adam Monier

Dr Adam Monier

Research Fellow


University of Exeter

Research summary

Oceans are changing: rising temperatures and atmospheric CO2 is altering water chemistry and the way water moves around the oceans. Such change is thought to cause intense stress on marine species, including the very foundations of oceanic food-webs, microbes. Ocean ecosystems are composed of a diverse collection of micro-organisms, with various shapes and life styles, from microbial predators that prey on other microbes, to phytoplankton (plant-like microbes). To better predict the effect of environmental change on marine biogeochemical cycles, knowledge about the structure and functioning of oceans’ microbial communities must be gathered. We need to better understand how marine microbes face changing environmental conditions.

My research focuses on marine microbial eukaryotes (protists), which perform essential functions in oceanic biogeochemical cycles. Molecular and microscopic observations have unveiled a tremendous diversity of protists but little is known about their physiology or evolution. ‘Omics’ sequencing projects provide a tool for comprehensive analysis of metabolic features, yet until recently these datasets, for protists, have been sparse. To fill this gap, several large-scale sequencing projects have recently provided vast amounts of ‘omics’ data from marine protists. My work involves the analysis of these data for evolutionary anomalies. These anomalies often reflect horizontal gene transfers (the transfer of genes across species boundaries), events that can confer new metabolic functions to their microbial hosts and promote niche adaptation. My work aim to determine the role of such transfers in marine protist ecology and identify metabolic pathways that are important for adaptive responses to fast-changing oceans.

This work will help to inform models of microbial function under changing environments and assist modellers who seek to predict the effects of climate change on ecosystem function, from biogeochemical cycles to microbial biogeography

Interests and expertise (Subject groups)

Grants awarded

Did horizontal gene transfer ‘rewire’ ocean microbial metabolic networks?

Scheme: Newton International Fellowships

Dates: Mar 2014 - Feb 2016

Value: £82,875